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Shirley Macnamara at QAG

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by Marina Marangos (subscribe)
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Dreaming the Weave
Galah Nest
Galah Nest
This is a significant week for Climate Change and all that it brings with world leaders and young activists like Greta Thunberg meeting in New York at the Summit to discuss these issues. So no better time for all of us really to become more grounded in the stark reality and the realisation that there is no planet B - and that the planet as we know it and as we abuse it is the only one on which we can rely. So when artists like Shirley Macnamara tells us about her journey with the earth and what it means to her, it is something that resonates and stays within.

Shirley Macnamara talking to Diane Moon

I listened to this artist who is an Indjalandji talk about her remote and isolated life in the Mount Guide and her drover husband who looked after and cared for some of the Aboriginal people there. I heard about how she learnt valuable lessons from her grandmother and other people who were important in her life and who pointed to the land and what it had to offer her. She was a painter to start with but then started looking around for another way to express her art and yes, the earth and the land become her art studio and she has not looked back.
Wingreegu 2012
Wingreegu 2012

Her exhibition which is on presently at QAG is small and so very beautiful but large and meaningful in each of the pieces she displays.

She talks about finding spinifex as a medium for her art, how she takes the grass and strips it back to reveal the softer more pliable parts and then uses it to weave her baskets, sometimes very tightly, other times more loosely. She gathers the grasses but never too much, always remembering that she must share them with the cattle, and the land. Her other materials are feathers which she and her grandson collect, old and bleached cattle bones and the earth's ochres. They are all used to denote her connection to the land but also to remind us of its fragility and of the need to protect the environment and all it has to offer us. Her art is not expressed on a board with colours but in the loops of the weave and the careful and considered softening of the basket with the addition of galah feathers.

Dust Dream
Dust Dream

It is work that stays with you and belongs to all of us to the extent that we can see where it came from and how we need to look after it, as Shirley does.
One of a series of fascinators
One of a series of fascinators

Her exhibition is on from the 21st of September to the 1st of March 2020. To find out more go to Shirley Macnamara
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Why? Fascinating art emanating from the earth.
When: 21st Sept 2019 to 1st march 2020.
Phone: 3840 7303
Where: Queensland Art Gallery Stanley Place, Cultural Precinct South Bank, Brisbane Queensland 4101, Australia
Cost: Free.
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